Today was the first day of the 1000 Candles project, a client-centered initiative conducted at the Hong Fook Mental Health Association which employs the theme of Light to explore personal narratives through painting. The project, graciously funded through a grant (‘Artists in the Community/Workplace‘) from the Ontario Arts Council, consists of two separate groups partaking in six sessions each – the first at HF’s North York location, and the second downtown. Our goal over this time is to produce sizable paintings which tell a story about each of the clients’ inner worlds, what is uniquely important to them, and what helps them to see when the road seems dark.
As always, I was joined by the amazing Annie Tse, energetic social worker extraordinaire and support staff for all of the various projects I’ve had the pleasure to lead at Hong Fook. Additionally, her summer student Wendy Xie was there this morning to assist, and in point of fact I also have my own student from the Toronto Art Therapy Institute (my most recent alma mater), Jessica Flaman, who is on site infusing my more technical approach to community arts (in this case) with a dose of art therapy.
The number of participants in attendance (14) was more than double the initial expected cap for the course (6), speaking to the enormous popularity art-based activities have enjoyed at Hong Fook during my tenure there, from its first course offering in July 2014, “Mindfulness Through Art”, to the stars we created for the event, Starry Day. I am heartened to see such starting enthusiasm, and am truly looking forward to nurturing the evident talent in the room as over the next few weeks we learn step by step some of the key processes that underlie the act of painting, both manual and conceptual!